Wednesday, April 30, 2014

President Obama's Japan Trip Hotel Bill: $635K

    President Obama spent only one night in Japan last week on his current swing through the Far East, but the State Department estimated total "lodging nights" required by the president and his entourage could run around 2,172, and the use of "functional rooms" (presumably conference rooms and the like) could last up to 29 days.  The total cost was estimated at a maximum of $635,261.92:

    The cost of lodging is not what makes this contract posting notable or unique, however (the cost of a recent presidential trip to Brussels came to about $1.5 million for just one of the hotels used for the visit); rather, the speed with which this contract was posted online makes it stand out.  The time from the president's departure from Japan to the posting of the contract was barely three days. Such contracts can sometimes take months to appear on fbo.gov, the federal government's contracting website.
    The visit was so recent, in fact, that as of Monday morning, the hotel where the president and his team stayed (Hotel Okura Tokyo) still had a message posted on its website thanking other guests for their patience with the inconveniences caused by the "foreign delegations's stay."

    Although the Justification and Approval document pictured above refers to a "Vice President visit," the State Department confirmed via email that the document pictured above was indeed for the president's recent visit.  The State Department said the reference to the Vice President was a typo left over from a prior document, but was corrected in the final contract.  The last time Vice President Biden visited Japan was in December 2013.  The estimated cost of lodging for that visit was $420,000.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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